Every Wednesday, we get “the flyers”. It’s a stack of 8-10 grocery store weekly ads showing what’s on sale for the coming week. To be honest, up until recently, I couldn’t be bothered.
I’m not really a planner. I’m prefer to stay in my comfort zone and eat pretty much the same thing every week plus one or two meals where I go all out. The thought of creating a meal plan consisting of 7 days of different lunches and dinners gives me hives. As such, the thought of trying to mix up our consistently healthy menu for the sake of saving a couple dollars by buying the deli meat that’s on sale wasn’t appealing.
I’d rather have the same thing for lunch every day, a couple different things to throw in salads for dinners, rinse, and repeat the whole week. I prefer it because it means I have the extra time, money, and patience to make something truly exceptional a couple times a week.
I’d be lying if I didn’t look at free food at work and make decisions on whether I eat it based on how long I’d need to run or bike to burn it off. Unless its cheesy sweet bread or potato balls from Portos, it’s not worth it. (And yes, I have looked up calorie estimates. No, you definitely don’t want to know.)
So when I do make something different, I want it to be well worth it. It’s the same reason why I don’t just post a regular ol’ recipe just for the sake of it. Besides, I want it to be worth it for you too!
This brings me to the fact that good ingredients are flipping expensive! I’m no longer frolicking around a commercial kitchen stocked with huge boxes of high quality chocolate, quarts of vanilla bean paste, fruit purees in any flavor you can imagine, and big bags of matcha (because, why not?).
I recently bought a jar of vanilla beans. Two vanilla beans. Come on! I feel like I’m on an elementary school allowance. And I doubt it’ll get better if I do my chores like I’m supposed to.
Begrudgingly, I started looking through these flyers in the hopes of reducing the cost of these splurge meals. Paired with my dog-eared Flavor Bible, I started going through them to see what meals I could come up with. I picked the best flavor combinations I could find based on how easily and cheap I could get the other ingredients that would go along with it.
Tea smoked duck? I could do a banging good job. I’d love to show you. But unfortunately, I’m going to have to wait until this website makes the big bucks. Until then, it’s me and my flyers.
Maybe you’re in the same boat too?
This week, carrots were on sale for 25 cents a pound. Unreal. They were practically giving them away! Carrots led me to consider the idea of pairing ginger, cilantro, and lemongrass together. All these ingredients go really well with seafood such as scallops or white fish.
Immediately, I thought of carrot ginger soup, but smoothed out a bit with some Mexican crema. You can find this in the dairy section or in the deli if you live in an area with a big Hispanic population. Mexican crema gives it a smoother consistency and tones down the bite from the ginger. If you can’t find it, use heavy cream.
Now I’ll admit this dish didn’t go perfectly according to plan. Lemongrass was absent from my regular go to cheap grocery store. However, I was able to find it lemongrass sticks for about $3 at Whole Foods in the packaged herb section. Yeah yeah, give me a hard time buying an ingredient that wasn’t on sale.
Or herbs in plastic containers. (That’s probably worse.)
Psst! We’re trying out a new look. What do you prefer? Printable recipe sections or spaced out instructions with pictures for each step?
- ~1 and ½ T vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (psst! Have you heard of our onion cutting trick?)
- 1.5 oz fresh ginger, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 dried Ancho chilies, broken into pieces
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 2 lbs carrots, trimmed and sliced into ¼" rounds
- 2 8" lemongrass stalks, bashed
- 2 strips orange zest (~1" by 2-3")
- 1 14-oz can coconut milk
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup Mexican crema
- 1 and ½ lbs fresh sea scallops
- In a large saute pan, cook the onion and ginger over medium low heat for 5 minutes until soft.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the chilies and curry powder and mix in well.
- Add the carrots, lemongrass stalks, and orange zest. Reduce to low heat and cook for 10 minutes.
- While the carrots are cooking, shake the can of coconut milk to mix it, then pour it into a large sauce pot that's big enough to hold all ingredients combined. Add the chicken stock and heat over low heat until hot.
- After the carrots have cooked for 10 minutes, move everything in the saute pan to the sauce pot. Stir, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
- You should be able to easily pierce the carrots with a fork after 15 minutes of cooking. If not, continue to cook them until they are.
- Remove the lemongrass and orange zest. Blend the mixture until super smooth. This could take a couple minutes. Your patience will be rewarded with silky, smooth soup. 🙂
- Add the Mexican crema and continue to blend for another 15 seconds.
- Pass the soup through a fine mesh strainer into another large sauce pot to remove any fine chili pepper pieces and ginger fibers (not good eats). You may have to press the soup through the strainer with a bench scraper or spatula. This process took me a couple minutes. Discard any remaining pulp that didn't go through the strainer.
- Return the soup to the stove and keep on low heat while you finish the scallops.
- Inspect your scallops for a slightly opaque white strip on the side. This is a muscle that's used to keep the scallop shell closed and it toughens when it's cooked. Remove this strip. (I found this strip on about half of my scallops.)
- Dry the scallops with a paper towel or cloth and season well with salt and black pepper.
- In a large saute pan, heat 1 T vegetable oil over high heat until the oil is smoking. In batches, cook the scallops spaced well apart for 90 seconds. Flip and cook for another 90 seconds. Remove them and set them aside. (Don't crowd the pan or they won't sear as well, which means they'll get stuck to the pan, won't brown, and may even get overcooked in your attempt to brown them.)
- Serve the soup hot with a drizzle of Mexican crema, cilantro pluche (little leaves or top), and a mound of seared scallops in the middle.